06 July 2015

"All good?"

Well sort of ...

It's July and the Tour de France has started, that means cyclists are madly racing toward France. Last I looked (rather last I posted) I was in California for the Tour of California. Now everyone has headed to Holland, Belgium and France for the biggest cycling event on the calendar (beside Paris-Roubaix of course!). Where am I? I am in Colorado. Why? Because life made a huge turn. Huge.

Last May, together with my most favorite cycling photographers, I was standing on the other side of the finish line on Mt Baldy waiting in the cold cold fog for the peloton to cross the line. I was leaning on the barrier when Jens Voigt walked by having exited the VIP tent. "Hi Jens, how ya doing?" I blurted out reflexively, "Hey, All good!?" he responded with a thumbs up is his typical high-octane positive manner.

I didn't say a word. I just starred at him, managing a meager smile; how would I have known I could not lie to Jens?

What could I respond when all was anything but good. I hadn't prepared for this question. I was in tremendous pain, my body still relatively strong, my brain was struggling to cope. I stood on that mountain - going through the motions - because I wanted to be there so badly, but I was really ill. I have a new found neuropathy. It is as all-consuming and as life-changing as a new found passion or a new found love; only I would never have chosen this one.

The jury of 3 is still out on the exact diagnosis (meaning I have far too many doctor appointments and tests scheduled), but the high dose of anticonvulsant medications leave me dizzy and uncoordinated - which makes bike riding a present past-time. The meds also diminish my ease with words and my creative flare. Cut to the chase: I am not much good on a bike or as a blogger these days. Seems I lost my identity in the Spring and it is too soon to say who I will become.

I always lived today as if there were no tomorrow, and now I understand why.

I climbed every mountain with an urgency as if I had to do it now. And sometimes scared myself by living too much in the moment. My brother Michael, whom I often mention in this blog, is traveling to the French Alps (on his own!) in August to ride every possible climb within two-weeks. "Why?" I asked him, "Because my sister got some random rare nerve disease and I decided to do it now." I really wish I could have motivated him in some other manner.

Believe me, all those people you might be riding charity rides for, really would rather be doing it themselves.

I have a friend recently diagnosed with cancer who over-uses the term it is what it is. Well it is not. This disease is not going to be me. I am going to ride again and/or go to a bike race again. I have spent time with men and women on Wounded Warrior rides, I have ridden next to Davis Phinney on a bike - these are individuals who fight against the irregularities in their bodies and somehow manage graciously to respond to the question "How are you doing?" with the word "Good." Even if they are not all good.

So get out and ride your bike, but if I hear you even mutter the words, "I am riding because Karen can't," know I will not be happy with my method of motivation. Ride because you know, as I did, that there is no putting off until tomorrow what you can (and must) do today.

And if you want a list of where to start, see some suggestions here: My Favorite Rides. And if you want to see a list of the rides my brother will be climbing in August in the Alps ... well I'll just have to write about those won't I?

Now for a word of gratitude to a reader (Mike in Albuquerque) who wrote to me this morning to ask where I have been. Thank you for your concern, your kind email touched me so deeply it unleashed the words I know still reside in my head and the creativity born from passion and inspiration for the sport of cycling and a true love of travel.

Which promptly reminds me of this weeks topic -- the Tour de France, which I really should tend to but wasn't that USA Women's Soccer match amazing! I would also like to thank everyone from TripAdvisor who visit my French Travel posts for maintaining my blog statistics during my absence. It nearly makes me realize there is no need to talk about cycling.

I did write this about the TDF: Route of the 2015 Tour de France

Big news: did I share with you my greatest achievement of the recent (distant) Tour of California? My contribution to Peter Sagan's current Twitter profile picture. Yep, I took that photo for him. I am quite proud of this because it shows I did something in the past 3.5 months, although I cannot take credit for his good hair day.~

Peter Sagan in one of a series of serious poses
Peter Sagan in one of a series of serious poses

Happy Tour de France!